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Republican Candidates’ Women Problems

| September 24, 2011

Still clueless.

By Martha Burk

After suffering through several un-presidential GOP debates, I’m struck by the amount of anti-woman rhetoric spewing from the candidates. Although none of them dares utter the W word — unless it’s part of the phrase “our men and women in uniform” — it’s pretty easy to see what their views are on issues concerning the sex that comprises a majority of voters.

Take a look:

Social Security tops the list. Rick “Ponzi Scheme” Perry has declared the program unconstitutional, and the other candidates are struggling to characterize their various schemes to destroy Social Security as “saving” this vital program.

This is a women’s issue: women live longer than men, earn less during their working lives, and have smaller private pensions and savings accounts. And unlike the private accounts pushed by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, women don’t have to fight over Social Security payments in a divorce, and widows can’t outlive the benefit. Don’t some of these candidates have mothers or grandmothers?

Martha Burk

The Live Commentary

Then there’s the pesky issue of jobs and the lack thereof. Some members of the media have tried to paint the Great Recession as a “mancession,” because construction took the biggest hit early on. Not so anymore. In the last 12 months, the pain has shifted to the female-dominated public sector currently under attack by the GOP, in which women are 50 percent more likely to be employed than men. And despite the fact that the number of women working part-time because they can’t find full-time employment has doubled since the recession began, the candidates are also opposed to any new stimulus money — unless you’re talking about giveaways for big banks and big corporate tax breaks.

When it comes to abortion, there’s plenty of agreement across the Republican field. All the contenders, including formerly pro-choice Mitt Romney, would deny women a choice when it comes to their own health or the size of their families. That’s why the topic almost never comes up in the debates. From a party that claims it wants the government out of our lives, this makes them all candidates for a new reality show. Let’s call it “The Biggest Liar.”

And take health care, another area of agreement among Republican candidates. Every GOP hopeful favors repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which they all fondly and frequently refer to as “Obamacare.” Poor women and their children are Medicaid’s major recipients, but the candidates want to slash both state and federal funds for the program, sending states on a race to the bottom in terms of who is covered and what benefits they get. And private insurance? Adult women are the largest group in the U.S. working for minimum wage, and far less likely than men to have a company-paid plan. Before the GOP-hated Affordable Care Act passed with its curbs on rate increases, insurance companies were raising premiums for individual policies at a dizzying pace. Increases exceeded 40 percent in some cases. You do the math.

And then think about the things they don’t say.

Year after year, election after election, equal pay polls at or near the top of the list of women’s concerns. The pay gap with men is even more stubborn than the unemployment rate. At 79 cents on the dollar, it has narrowed only about a dime in a generation. But don’t hold your breath while waiting to hear anything about it from the candidates.

What about those revered military women? A little-known statistic is that female members of the military were disproportionately mustered out for violating the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. They comprise about one in five of the troops but close to half of those discharged for their sexual orientation. And tough luck if you get pregnant from a rape or sexual assault. Sex crimes are rampant at too many military installations two countries away from a civilian hospital. Service women can’t get an abortion at the military hospital — even if they pay for it with their own money.

But enough facts. You decide. Does the GOP hate women?

Martha Burk is a political psychologist, women’s issues expert, and director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO).

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10 Responses for “Republican Candidates’ Women Problems”

  1. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    Wow. Republicans hate women, yet one of the top 5 running right now is a woman and one of the potential candidates who has yet to decide but is constantly talked about is also a woman, how can that be? All I can say is that if the author’s views are representative of her organization, (which I have no doubt they are), then the group should be identified correctly as the National Council of LIBERAL Women’s Organizations.

    Of the glaring errors in Ms Burk’s article, of which there are many, this one in particular stands out… “All the contenders, including formerly pro-choice Mitt Romney, would deny women a choice when it comes to their own health or the size of their families”. I certainly would hate to let facts get in the way of Ms Burk’s misguided opinion, but apparently she didn’t watch the latest debate which included Gary Johnson, who not only was the first candidate to declare his campaign for President but is also the former Governor of New Mexico, and, stop the press, he’s pro-choice. The oversight might be excusable if not for the fact that Ms Burk previously served as the Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Johnson’s successor in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson!

    But what I find most absurd in this “article” is the fact that Ms Burk is quick to place blame for all the woes she lists (some of which are valid concerns, others are completely manufactured) on the republicans RUNNING for President, most of whom are not currently office holders in any capacity, rather than the man who’s CURRENTLY the President.

  2. Prescient33 says:

    Ms Burk is entitled to her opinion, but not her “facts.” On Equal Pay, she uses outdated data, and ignores recent studies such as done by a group of eminent professors at Carnegie Mellon’s University’s Tepper School of Business, which found, “Given executive rank and background, women are paid more than men, experience less pay uncertainty, and are promoted as quickly.” Other studies reported in USA Today on on ABC News show that your women professionals substantially out earn their male contemporaries in many metropolitan areas. (A result of the disproportionate ratio of women versus male college graduates these days.)
    And unless there has been a sea change in the work force, all studies show that the majority of minimum wage earners are teenagers and youths, not the primary family wage earner (of course most of these studies were done before Obama’s devastating economic policies cemented unemployment in the USA as above 9% (and 16% among blacks).
    Ms Burk further elides the fact that a disproportionate share of the cost of Obamacare will be borne by the elderly because of the Draconian cuts of over a half a Billion dollars in Medicare alone.
    Republicans don’t have a female problem-Progressives have problems with the facts.

  3. dealingwithidiots1 says:

    Thanks for reporting the unbiased news rather then your opinion!

  4. Justice for All says:

    I’ve worked all of my life, paid in to a 401K, deferred comp., etc. My biggest fear at night? That I will outlive the money that i have accumulated, or else will be swindled out of it, and otherwise die a pauper. Most of the men I know and have worked with over the years never consider this possibility.

  5. Val Jaffee says:

    @ Jonny Taxpayer

    “Wow. Republicans hate women, yet one of the top 5 running right now is a woman and one of the potential candidates who has yet to decide but is constantly talked about is also a woman, how can that be?”

    Because Jonny it makes sense! If republicians hope to attract female voters, 50% of the voting population?, it would be suicide for them not to. The democrats can still pull Hillary, maybe Elizabeth Warren if necessary to counter the two female republican candidates. Women also vote on looks, and the male bunch out there is very hard on the eyes. I am supporting Ron Paul! I’m not most women :)

  6. Outsider says:

    Ah, thank God for Flagler Live; where else would we get such a pile of liberal bullshit? I wonder why the author is seemingly unconcerned about the treatment Republican women receive when they run for office. Actually, Hillary got a dose of the “woman” treatment, thus giving us this wonder of a president. I guess if there’s a silver lining to that dark cloud it’s that the Dems have basically blown any chance for retaining the office.

  7. devrie says:


    Is it perhaps possible that most of the workers are making slightly above minimum wage, but are still living in poverty? Who are these 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes? They must be the working poor. Furthermore, the poor are most likely to have children at younger ages due to locate, educational cycles, and local societal influences. Is a 19 year old woman working for minimum wage any less a teenager than a 17 year old woman with a five month old baby?

    Whether the women are making minimum wage or not, there are a large number of women who are making close to minimum wage. I left the military, came home (no sisters or brothers, only my widowed mother), and made a grand total of $17,700. I know, I know. I didn’t try hard enough. I’m inherently stupid, or lazy. That’s all possibly true, I suppose, in someone else’s perspective. I’m perhaps to stupid to figure out what type of job I can get in and around Flagler County with a B.A. in Natural Sciences (not a B.S.), and seven years as a weather guesser. I did the waitress thing. I worked at a nonprofit. I volunteered. I’m even working on a second degree.

    I live in a place where a lot of people work for very low wages, and a majority of them are women. We all live in our own socio-economic bubbles. If it doesn’t seem possible to you that women are struggling to make ends meet, then perhaps you work in a middle class job and live in a middle class neighborhood. I mean, if you make 60k a year, why would you buy a small house near the projects? You wouldn’t. You might buy a plot of land in the Mondex, but even that isn’t likely.

    We live in our bubbles, but I assure you that those of us who are still trying to figure out how to climb a financial ladder aren’t lazy, nor stupid. We exist. We exist, and we make such low incomes that our meager retirement savings will barely pay us a poverty wage when we retire, if we retire.

  8. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    ” I’m perhaps to stupid to figure out what type of job I can get in and around Flagler County with a B.A. in Natural Sciences (not a B.S.), and seven years as a weather guesser.”

    This isn’t a woman problem, there are plenty of people of all gender, race, and degree levels trying to figure out how to make a living in Flagler and the surrounding counties, and in many other places in this Country, you’re going to have to evaluate other options. That may include moving, It’s no secret the job market here is tight, it’s no secret that you’re going to have a tough time scratching out a living with a “Natural Sciences” degree… and frankly I wouldn’t be so sure working on a second degree is your answer either. I’ve lived in Flagler for close to 9 years, 6 of which I spent commuting well in excess of 1000-1500 miles per week. I know plenty of people who commute to Jacksonville or Orlando, or worse.

    Bottom line, my unsolicited advise, if you want to stay in Flagler, the traditional career isn’t going to cut it, you’re not going to make more than $20k a year working for someone else here, regardless of the degrees you have or earn, with very little exception. You’re going to have to look at creating income for yourself via self employment, consulting, or freelancing. Checkout and for various ways you might be able to use your talents, and pick up the book No More Mondays, by Dan Miller.

  9. Prescient33 says:

    Had devrie done her due diligence, she would have seen that Flagler County, with its high unemployment and lack of industry with higher paying jobs was not the place for one with limited marketable skills to settle. One should go to where the jobs are; as it is often true that an agreeable climate and pleasant surroundings has little to do with meaningful job openings. For years the real estate boom in our county gave the impression of a growing economy; unfortunately, like the old Russian proverb warning against hanging all one’s possessions on one nail, once the home building collapsed, so did much of Flagler County’s economy.
    (I’m not going into the NIMBY mentality that freezes out much of the county from real industrial expansion-that’s another story for another time.)

  10. some guy says:

    Wow another far left wing nut saying the GOP is all bad who would think she would come up with anything else. And what the hell is a”Political pychologist”???? also I bet her far left agenda makes her a “womans issues expert”.

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